School Choice & Charters

Chicago District Sues Illinois State Charter School Commission

By Arianna Prothero — March 24, 2016 1 min read

Chicago Public Schools is suing a state commission for overturning the district’s decision to close charter schools that were not meeting its performance benchmarks, according to local media.

The Illinois State Charter School Commission granted an appeal to three charter schools to stay open, saying the district had not given the schools enough time to adjust to newly implemented standards, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The commission was formed in 2011 as an independent statewide authorizer—an authorizer is a group that grants charters and oversees schools once they are open.

Most authorizers in Illinois are school districts, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. But the commission, unlike districts, has the power to grant charters to schools anywhere in the state, and it can also grant appeals to charter applications or renewals that have been turned down by other authorizers.

Currently 15 states have independent statewide authorizing boards, which is pushed as a best practice in the charter sector by NACSA as a means of professionalizing the authorizing job.

As you might expect, charter school supporters also see these boards as a means to bypass district authorizers that may be reluctant to grant charters to potential competitors, while school districts see these boards as usurping their local authority.

Georgia created an independent statewide authorizing board the same year as Illinois. It was subsequently challenged in court by several school districts, deemed unconstitutional by the state’s supreme court, and resurrected through a ballot referendum in 2012.

I dug into these independent statewide authorizing boards pretty extensively in this 2014 article for Education Week.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.